- Follow three steps to create your own time control plan designed to help manage and organize your time.
- Learn how to efficiently take charge of your email.
- Review three things to consider when managing social media for your business.
As a Fitness Professional, you more than likely got into the fitness industry, or perhaps started your own fitness business, so that you could enjoy more freedom, make a difference in the lives of the clients you work with, and make a significant amount of money in return. Now that you have positioned yourself to achieve these goals, it just needs to happen! Or rather, you just need to take the necessary steps to make it happen.
You may wonder to yourself more than a few days each week, what in the world did I do all day? You end the day feeling that you were working 100 miles per hour for many hours, but in reality very little was accomplished to help you achieve your goals as you wandered from one task to another. As a result, you may have little to show for all of your hard work.
In order to enjoy your freedom, make a difference in the lives of more clients, as well as make the money you dream of, something has to change. Simply being “busy” will not allow you to reap the maximum benefits from the time you put in. To help with this common problem, this article will detail 3 actions to help you get started on making the most out of your limited resource: Time.
Before the details of these actions are explained, let us first look at the importance of time management.
Why is it important to manage your time?
Imagine that you are just starting to build your business as a Fitness Professional while working another job. Generating revenue is going to be critical at this early point, because the sooner you can grow your business on the few days off you have, the sooner you can quit your “day job.” On the other hand, if you are already working full-time as a Fitness Professional, imagine that you are striving to take your business to the next level and generate more income during the time you dedicate to work. It is critical to organize your time, and the tasks you accomplish during that time, in order to achieve greater success. Keep in mind, the amount of time you put into your business is not as important as what you accomplish during the time you put into your business.
First, you must determine what clientele you are targeting, what services to offer, where you provide your services, and what your rates will be. Next, you will want to create the details of your services and start promoting what you have to offer. Communicating your services and connecting with your clientele can be accomplished via your website, your blog and/or social media sites, etc.
When designating time for any of these tasks, it is important to remember that time is money and wasted time costs you in lost revenue. For example, let’s say you have decided to charge $100/hour for your services. This means that if you are not seeing clients, the projects you work on are costing you $100/hour.
In this case, if you spend 3 hours a day on email, 1-2 hours a day on the phone (in unproductive conversations that do not directly result in revenue generation) and 2-3 hours a day on social media, that could amount to a total of 6-8 hours a day on tasks that just cost you $600-800 just for one day. According to Basix, a knowledgeable economy research and advisory firm, information overload accounts for a loss of 25% of our productivity per day (Spira, 2008), which accounts for $900 billion per year in lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation. If you lose 25% of each day, that can literally mean the difference between success and closing your doors.
If this wasted time meant you were unable to get a promotion out in time for posting or publication on a calendar or website, or if it meant you were unable to host or attend an event that connected you with potential clients, you have to consider the lost revenue as a result. Your potential clients may be looking to sign up now, and if you miss connecting with them, they’ll look elsewhere. So, not only would you lose their potential business for now, but you would probably lose them forever.
These added costs can literally cost you thousands in lost revenue, and all from one wasted and poorly managed day.
The remainder of this article details the 3 actions that will help you take control of your time in order to become more efficient and generate more revenue.
Create your own time control plan
Here are several reasons why you should create a time control plan
- When our mind is distracted, it becomes cluttered.
- When our mind is cluttered, it can’t focus.
- When we’re unable to focus, we get nervous and we start multitasking.
- Multitasking does not work as efficiently as focusing on specific tasks. In fact, research shows that multitasking reduces productivity by approximately 40 percent (Cherry, n.d.)
If you recognize yourself in the above example, take a big breath and know that you can turn things around, today. It starts with three simple steps to create a plan for controlling your time.
Step 1 – Create your schedule
The first critical step is to map out when you can work ON your business, not just in it.
We often over-estimate the time we have, which is why we feel so overwhelmed and stressed. The only solution is to get a clear picture of just how much time you really do have.
Example 1 is a calendar you can use for this exercise. I suggest printing it up and using a pencil to complete the following:
- Shade out all personal time. Personal time includes sleeping, bathing, eating and family time. This also includes your own personal workouts and any other personal time. Be sure to include the time it takes to commute to clients, personal train or work with clients, and other client-specific work (creating client programs, etc.)
- What’s left is the time to work on your business, which is what the rest of this plan is about.
Example 2 shows a fitness professional’s schedule, indicating her filled time and free time. The blocks of white show her free time that she can work on the business, not just in it.
Once you complete the shading of your personal time and labeling of clients, it will become clear how much time and when you have time available to work on your business. You then are ready to plan your tasks for each available time slot.
Step 2 - Create a to-do list for each day
Write down everything you want to accomplish for the day. Then break that list into income producing tasks and non-income producing tasks. You can do this by simply labeling each task with an “I” or an “N.”
(I = Income producing tasks, N= Non-income producing tasks)
Examples of Income producing tasks include:
- Creating (writing) your online newsletter
- Training/Working with clients
- Creating client programs and services
Examples of Non-income producing items include:
- Reading Electronic Mailing List (EML) email and other email
- Social media sites
- All your back-end work for the business (such as setting up your newsletters to go out, scheduling your client visits, etc.)
Step 3 - Prioritize the top 3 Income-producing tasks on your list
Often when we have a large list of things on our ‘to-do’ list, we start to feel overwhelmed. That’s because we feel we have to get them all done in the day! When that doesn’t happen by the end of the day, we end feeling defeated.
Avoid getting into that trap by selecting just the top three things on your to-do list to accomplish for one day. If you get the three things done early, great! Then you can add one more thing, and then one more thing, etc.
Here are essential tips to follow when you start working on your top 3 tasks:
- Put the three tasks in your calendar for the day. It’s up to you to determine if you should work on the task to completion or if you should stop and work on task #2.
- Shut down email, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and phone when working on your tasks.
- Stop multi-tasking! Pick ONE thing to work on at a time. When you try to handle a lot of things at once, this creates ongoing chatter, which leads to chaos, which then leads to the lack of focus.
Take charge of your email
Email is a critical part of growing your business. Not only is it important to answer inquiry emails in a timely manner, but it can be a powerful way to promote your services to those who show an interest (by agreeing to be on your mailing list). However, you should be in charge of email instead of email being in charge of you. When you have taken charge of your email, you then have more time to see clients, talk with potential new clients, or work on promotions to generate more interest in what you have to offer. The revenue potential can be huge. (Email overload, n.d.)
There are simple steps to taking charge of your email. Of course, I could tell you to not open your email first thing in the morning, but if you’ve struggled with managing your time, you probably already know that tip. No, I’m referring to specific actions.
The email reader you utilize will determine what the terms are for what I’m about to share. Personally, I use Thunderbird, but I know many people use Gmail or Outlook. You might have to refer to your “help” feature to learn how to complete the following tips in your own email reader.
- First, set up specific folders in your email. I have folders for clients, particular programs, specific newsletters, for projects, for EMLs, etc. The last time I counted them, I think I had over 50 (Fisher, et al, 2006). Some folders you may want to access again and again, so when naming the folder precede that folder name with an @ sign. As an example, my 2013 Platinum clients, which are in my main folder of “Coaching,” is labeled as “@PSP2013.” Use this labeling method for the folders of correspondence you need to come back to, because you can’t respond to those emails, yet.
- Next, create filters or rules. When you set up a filter for your emails, your system knows to automatically put emails from a specific sender into a specific folder. Then when you have time, you can easily access all of these emails in one location (folder). The time-savings from this one step alone is extremely beneficial.
- Lastly, hit "Delete." Do you ever wonder why we delete all of our voice mail but can accumulate hundreds of read emails in our inboxes? When was the last time you removed old emails from your inbox? David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, recommends ending each day with a cleaned-out inbox (Allen, 2001). If you have emails in your inbox that are over 6 months old, either respond now, move the emails to a folder (that can be labeled ‘didn’t respond’), or delete them. All emails in your inbox should be dealt with one way or another. By not taking charge of your emails, they are building clutter, not just in your inbox, but emotional clutter, as well. I also recommend making a regular check of EML email. If I haven’t read or responded to an EML email that is 6 months old or older, I delete them. About every 3 months, I’ll clean out all of my folders of that type of email. Feels great!
Manage your social media
Social media is an essential way of doing business today, even if your ideal clients are right next door. However, having a social media site for your business is not beneficial for your business unless you learn how to manage it. Unmanaged social media can begin to manage you and suck the life out of your day.
Today, social media marketing should be part of your overall marketing plan. I have successfully generated business from all over the world as a result of my social media marketing. If you think Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or even YouTube is for someone else, think again. Here are three simple ways to manage social media, so it doesn’t manage you:
- Determine what your goal is with social media. Do you want to draw traffic to your website or blog? Or do you want to sell a product or service, or promote something free? Be clear on that goal. The focus of social media for your business should be to develop relationships, just as with live networking, but you don’t want to spend all your time doing it. Again, if you spend the day on social networking, it just cost you a lot of money!
- Track your results. If your shopping cart or website doesn’t have stats, then install the code from Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to use and will tell you exactly where people are coming from and what they are looking at on your site. This can help you determine what’s working and what isn’t, so you can focus on doing more of what’s working and less on what isn’t.
- Put social networking on your schedule. It should not be a random.
Time is money, so print up this article and put these tips into action today. Then experience how great it feels to be in charge of your growing fitness business. Whether you are just starting in the fitness business or striving to take your current business to the next level, organizing your time and tasks efficiently allows you to reap more benefit from the time you put in. Equally as important, you are more likely to end each day feeling empowered, accomplished, and that you’re on the right track to success.
- Spira, Jonathan B, (2008) Information Overload: Now $900 Billion – What is Your Organization’s Exposure? Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://www.basexblog.com/2008/12/19/information-overload-now-900-billion-what-is-your-organizations-exposure/
- Cherry, Kendra, (n.d.) Multitasking: The Cognitive Costs of Multitasking. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/costs-of-multitasking.htm
- Email Overload. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.taglocity.com/emailOverload.html
- Fisher, D., Brush, A.J.,, et al. (2006). Revisiting Whittaker & Sidner’s “email overload” ten years later. Retrieved January 25, from http://research.microsoft.com/apps/pubs/default.aspx?id=69394
- Allen, D. (2001). Getting Things Done. New York, NY: Penguin Group.